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Boosting bottom line, employee morale with a wellness program

With more and more companies experiencing increases in their health care costs, corporate wellness programs are gaining momentum as a means to both control health care costs and increase the productivity and morale of employees. By promoting and incenting healthier lifestyles for their employees, employers can directly impact both absenteeism and productivity.

Company culture plays a significant role in the design, implementation and overall success of a wellness program. Management must realistically assess the culture and determine the most efficacious ways to implement a comprehensive wellness program. Typically, if company executives do not embrace wellness and lead by example or at least support the initiatives, the programs may not succeed. Data, motivation, commitment and ongoing communication all help drive a successful wellness program.

Early engagement of employees is key. Communicating the value they will realize from a wellness program in terms of improved health and wellbeing will engage them in the process. Instead of focusing on lowering medical costs for the company, an illustration of weekly savings by not spending hard-earned pay on cigarettes appeals to individuals.

Simply viewing a wellness program as a means of reducing health care premiums is short-term thinking. It can take up to three years before a reduction in health care premiums is realized. Employers will understand the concept of health care as an investment versus an expense when their employees are leading healthier lifestyles and are more productive with fewer absences. Lost employee time means lost profit. Improved productivity results in immediate improved financial performance.

A successful wellness program engages employees through effective communications and appeals to all levels of employees at varying levels of health. It is important for companies to develop a strong wellness message that is consistent with their corporate message and incorporates the company's various styles and methods of communication.

Make wellness part of the company culture. A wellness program is truly successful when a healthy lifestyle is accepted as the norm and employees are aware of their health and take responsibility for their personal health choices. For more information, contact John Kahle, chief wellness officer in the Corporate Wellness Consulting Department of Intercare Insurance Solutions, at 858-373-6900 or e-mail jkahle@intercaresolutions.com.

Submitted by John Kahle of Intercare Insurance Solutions

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